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Death at Jackson County Jail sparks investigation

Update: the Jackson County Medical Examiner's Office has confirmed after an autopsy that a man lodged in the Jackson County Jail died by suicide late Monday night.

Detectives with Jackson County's Major Assault and Death Investigation Unit continue to investigate the death of Scott Lee Ashbaugh, 28. A final report is expected from the Jackson County District Attorney's Office when the investigation is complete.

Ashbaugh was found unresponsive in his cell by a sheriff's deputy at 10:56 p.m. Nov. 4 during a routine cell check, the sheriff's office reported in a Tuesday news release. The deputy began life-saving efforts. Medford Fire-Rescue and Mercy Flights were also summoned, but Ashbaugh was pronounced dead at the scene.

His family has been notified, officials said. He had been set for release from the jail Thursday.

Ashbaugh was serving time for a probation violation for failing to report as a sex offender and resisting arrest, charges he had sustained multiple times within the last few years, according to court records.

Medford police most recently arrested him Oct. 19. He had been lodged in a cell by himself.

The decision to house an inmate alone in a cell is generally based on a determination that the inmate will be a danger to others, or that they may need protection from other inmates, said Sgt. Julie Denney, sheriff's department public information officer. Jail officials would not say why Ashbaugh was in a cell alone.

Mental health workers are at the jail daily to offer inmates help if they indicate that they are in crisis, Denney said.

"If an inmate indicates ... that they are thinking of harming themselves, then we initiate a suicide prevention protocol," Denney said.

That's a daily occurrence at the jail, she added.

Jail officials did not say whether the suicide prevention protocol had been initiated on Ashbaugh's behalf during his stay at the jail.

The last time an inmate died by suicide at the Jackson County Jail was in May 2013.

Some of the warning signs of suicidal behavior include talking about wanting to die or about feeling hopeless, talking about having no purpose, feeling trapped or in unbearable pain or about being a burden to others. Experts recommendnot leaving the person alone and removing any firearms, alcohol, drugs, or objects that could be used in a suicide attempt.

For those who may be experiencing thoughts of suicide or who know someone who is, the Jackson County Mental Health 24-hour crisis hotline number is 541-774-8201. Walk-in mental health services are available at 140 S. Holly St., Medford, from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday.

The number to the National Suicide Prevention Helpline is 1-800-273-8255.

Reach Mail Tribune reporter Kaylee Tornay at ktornay@rosebudmedia.com or 541-776-4497. Follow her on Twitter @ka_tornay.

Interior of the Jackson County Jail